August 11 2006.

An estimated 300,000 mini motorcycles have been imported into the UK from China over the past two years, many selling over the Internet for as little as ¬£100 and this has devastated sales of children's motorcycles from established European factories, which are often considerably more expensive. Industry experts calculate that sales of these have declined by 80-90% during the period 2003-2005, a decline so dramatic that few manufacturers will be able to sustain production for much longer.
The cheap imports have led to a massive increase in illegal use, particularly among youths riding these mini bikes on public roads and in public places, as well as accidents, which in turn has prompted the Home Office to act as part of its RESPECT agenda. 
Trading Standards officers are also becoming increasingly active, in response to complaints about sub-standard and dangerous mini bikes and mini motos. 
The European Commission's Consumer Affairs department has identified examples of these cheap imports with serious safety issues, such as unguarded drive chain and sprocket, which present a trapping and contact hazard to the user, and fuel system and electrical circuits that are inadequate due to lack of a protecting fuse and inadequate shielding of the fuel tank from heat, causing possible fire hazards.  Inadequate welding and low-grade nuts, bolts and screws compounded these problem areas.
Tom Waterer MCI's Technical Director said, "Dealers who may be considering joining the mini-bike bandwagon should consider carefully the quality and after sales support being offered."  With Trading Standards officers actively confiscating sub-standard stock, dealers need to consider carefully how best to tap into the junior bike market as the lucrative Christmas season approaches.
Peter Rivers Fletcher of Harglo adds "Dealers can compete with the Internet cowboys who are selling mini bikes today and something else tomorrow. When you compare the quality, safety, warranty, after sales support and resale value of European junior motorcycles to the cheaper alternative, they don't seem so expensive after all!" 
Harglo, who import the Malaguti Grizzly range of junior motorcycles from Italy, believe that this Christmas, the peak sales season for children's motorcycles, will be make or break time for the European manufacturers.
Contact 01386 701162 or visit www.harglo-performance.com
Find out more about the RESPECT mini bike agenda at www.respect.gov.uk/whats-being-done/news-events/articles/mini-moto-info.html